Japans boosts refugee support with Shs8.6bn in rice

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Japans boosts refugee support with Shs8.6bn in rice
Amb Hidemoto (right) during the handover of the donation.

The contribution will enable WFP to provide hot meals to at least 50,000 refugees expected to arrive into the country in 2024/25.

KAMPALA | The Japanese government has eased the burden of feeding refugees by extending a $2.2 million (Shs8.6bn) worth of rice to support the World Food Programme (WFP) in Uganda.

The contribution will enable WFP to provide hot meals to at least 50,000 refugees expected to arrive into the country in 2024/25.

“We are targeting new refugees in reception and transit centres because the time right after fleeing crisis is of extreme difficulty and vulnerability,”  Fukazawa Hidemoto, the outgoing ambassador of Japan to Uganda, said.

Hidemoto bid farewell to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs last week but he is winding down his tour of duty in generous style.

“This contribution is in line with Japan’s commitment to provide humanitarian support to Uganda at a time when the region is facing an influx of refugees and multiple crises,” he said.

Last year, 130,000 refugees arrived in Uganda. The country hosts a total of 1.5 million refugees, the highest number in any African country and the third largest host nation globally as of 2022.

Many of the arriving refugees are fleeing conflict in South Sudan, DR Congo, Somalia, and more recently Sudan.

Uganda’s refugee population has tripled in less than a decade. Despite a progressive refugee policy, refugees in Uganda have limited livelihood opportunities to sustain themselves and continue to depend on humanitarian assistance.

WFP Uganda’s Representative, Abdirahman Meygag, commended the Japanese government for their timely contribution.

“This comes at a critical time when WFP needs sustained donor support to continue providing monthly food assistance to refugees fleeing conflict,” Abdirahman said.

“When refugees receive a hot meal on arrival, it is a relief after long, often difficult journeys, with no food or water for days.

"This marks the beginning of recovery and hope as they then settle to find ways of rebuilding their lives.”

The UN food agency supports 1.4 million out of the 1.5 million refugees in Uganda with monthly food and cash assistance, but the gap between humanitarian needs and funding available to respond has grown steadily in recent years.

WFP in Uganda requires $134 million to support refugees in 2024.

In the face of limited resources, WFP is now prioritising the most vulnerable refugees for food assistance, a difficult decision reached after extensive consultations with refugees and key stakeholders.

The refugee households categorised as very vulnerable receive 60 percent of the size of regular food rations.

Less vulnerable families receive 30 percent of the minimum food ration, while those categorised as not vulnerable have been weaned off food assistance and connected to long-term livelihood opportunities.

All new arrivals receive a 100 percent food ration for the first three months.

This according to communication from world food programme.

The UN World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organisation, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters, and the impact of climate change.

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